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One in every two children in West Bengal is anaemic, health survey reveals

India Blooms News Service | | 16 Feb 2016, 11:35 pm
Kolkata, Feb 16 (IBNS): More than half the children under 5 years are still anaemic in West Bengal, the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4, 2015-'16) data revealed.
In a series of revelations, the nutritional status of children in West Bengal is found to have improved only marginally, in comparison to that of the previous NFHS data published almost a decade ago. 
Besides child malnutrition, quality of ante-natal and delivery care for expecting mothers also show worrying trends negatively impacting child-health in the state, as findings of the recent survey suggest.
However, overall findings of the first phase of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) for 2015-16 show marginal improvements in the maternal and child health and nutrition across 13 States and two UTs.
Even though West Bengal has done fairly well in several child health and nutrition indicators like immunisation and treatment of critical childhood diseases, the progression rate of critical indicators like child nutrition, which has direct linkage with children’s overall growth and development remains far below than expectation.
Atindra Nath Das, Regional Director (East), CRY – Child Rights and You, says, “The NFHS is not just a reflection of the state of health and nutritional well being of children but it also provides the direction for corrective measures in state policies and programmes. For West Bengal, the data so released reinforces the need for the state to address nutritional security of children and expecting mothers as an emergency.”
“In the context of malnutrition, strengthening of Anganwadi Centres and a robust system of growth monitoring, becomes imperative,” he added.
NFHS findings gives three sets of data as child malnutrition indicators – stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height) and underweight (low weight for age). 
While the percentage of stunted children in West Bengal has decreased by only 12% over the last decade (from 44.6% in 2005-‘06 to 32.5% in 2015-‘16), percentage of wasted and severely wasted children actually increased by almost 4% (from 16.9% to 20.3%) and 2% (from 4.5% to 6.5%) over the same period of time. 
More worrying is the fact that of all children in West Bengal one in every three (31.5) is still underweight. This percentage was 38.7 in 2005-‘06).
As per recent NFHS findings, Anaemia in children is found to have decreased marginally across most of the states, but still remains worryingly widespread.
In West Bengal, though the number of children under 5 years suffering from Anaemia decreased by 7 percentage points over the last decade (from 61% in 2005-‘06 to 54.2% in 2015-’16), one in every two children is still Anaemic. 
Mothers do not fare any better than children in this regard either, as more than 60% of all women and 53.2% of pregnant women are found Anaemic in West Bengal, the survey revealed.